Etiquette Evolves

Etiquette changes over time. It evolves. With the invention of the fork to the internet, etiquette has had to adapt. New rules have been created for civilized ways to act in situations ranging from golf etiquette to funeral etiquette. Because of this, etiquette is not an exact science. What rules work for one community may be slightly different for another. Think in terms of accents. When you travel around the country you will notice a Southern drawl in Texas and a completely different accent in New York. Of course here in California we do not have an accent. While people are speaking essentially the same language, there are noticeable differences. 

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Etiquette changes from country to county, town to town and even house to house. For example, my father was from Illinois, went to college in California marrying my mother and settling in California. About Junior high I began running around with bare feet as all my young friends. This was driving my father insane. I could not believe it was such a big deal. He felt you were “low class” if you did not wear shoes at all times, even in the house. My mother, a native Californian tried to explain the rules were different in California since we lived so close to the beach. Walking bare foot was completely acceptable. For my father, the concept had roots in the fact if you didn’t wear shoes; it was because you could not afford shoes. Etiquette rules can change from house to house. I wore shoes in the house to appease my father.

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Then I met Marc, my future husband and he takes me to his parent’s house. New rule, Marc’s father found it disrespectful to wear your shoes in the house. I often wore black pants with black dress boots. My outfit always matched down to the tiniest details, with exception of my socks. Since my socks were covered by black dress boots, I never thought about the color or style of my socks. I found it very embarrassing to go to dinner or a party at Marc’s parent’s house elegantly dressed with white sport socks on my feet and my pants dragging along. I finally learned and bought black socks, not that I always remembered to wear them and it didn’t help the hemline of my pants.  

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Another rule that differed greatly with my “two dads” was the dropping in of guests. My father and his friends would have ‘come as you are parties.” We would call someone semi late at night and whatever they were wearing they had to show up in. One time someone was in the bathtub and we made and exception. We would have desert, coffee and laughs. My father was a very gregarious guy and loved company; we always had people in and out of our house and dropped in on our friends often.  My father-in-law saw it as very disrespectful for anyone to “drop-in.” I know there are a lot of you out there who feel the same way. Now that I have small children and homeschool (my children are almost  always home), I can see his point. It is about impossible to keep the house tidy to the point of company. Although I must say my in-laws house had the non-lived in look.  

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Moral of the story: Know the rules of your workplace, your clients and perspective in-laws.

4 Replies to “Etiquette Evolves”

  1. Holly
    I love the suggestion to handle the bill ahead of time and out of sight-then the guest can feel really “taken care of” with no discomfort to mar the occasion.

    BTW, I bookmarked your blog and will check it from time to time.

  2. Every business person needs access to your knowledge. It’d be great if you can cover something like who pays the bills on a date what with dating itself changing as online introductions gain ground.

    Seems that many of our youth these days don’t know etiquette, and sadly may are not interested. I was sent to Social Graces classes by my parents. I did all I could to disrupt my class, my teacher called my mother for a conference. I couldn’t handle the horrible look on my mother’s face so I showed her I knew how to walk like a lady, sit like one, I knew how to set up a formal table, talk with grace, etc. I just was not sold on using what I learned. She was relieved and hoped one day I would use them. I have.
    And I am glad for it because it made me feel I can be with any person of any level and know how to conduct myself.

    I was thinking – wouldn’t it be nice for you to have a class at Gavilan and the kids take it as an elective. It will give them self-confidence (esp. the
    kids from underprivileged families)–it will help them feel comfortable in many situations. Those of us sent to Social Graces classes started out
    in junior high. How wonderful for a budding young person to have that
    confidence!

    I loved your site. I already introduced it to a few ladies I know.

    Dorie

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